The 52 New Foods Challenge – Pomegranates

This is the FINAL post for The 52 New Foods Challenge! WOW! It has taken me MUCH longer that 52 weeks to blog about this, but hey, I stuck with it!!

Pomegranates are a fruit that I didn’t really eat until I was an adult. I loved buying the ready-to-go pomegranate seeds at Trader Joe’s! So easy! They are quite a fun snack, although they are a bit of work when you buy the whole fruit. I also enjoy adding pomegranates to salads. The seasonal Thanksgiving salad that I mentioned here, also had pomegranate seeds. Danielle Walker of Against All Grain adds them to a Brussels sprouts dish, which adds a delightful twist.

Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests making a sauce using pomegranates instead of cranberries or add them to a wild rice and pistachio dish. Both sound delicious!

Food Facts:

  • Pomegranates are thought to be the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, rather than apples.
  • They originate from Iran.
  • The red seeds are called arils.
  • Pomegranates are a good source of vitamins K, E,  and B6, and folate, potassium, manganese, and pantothenic acid.
  • Rich source of antioxidants, especially tannins and flavonoids.
  • Studies show that pomegranate juice can inhibit the growth of breast, prostate, colon, and lung cancers.
  • Pomegranates have been shown to be heart protective, as it can improve blood pressure and improve blood flow.

From:

The 52 New Foods Challenge by Jennifer Tyler Lee and Superfoods by Tonia Reinhard.

The 52 New Foods Challenge – Persimmons

Persimmons are not a “new” food for me, however, I’m not a big fan of them. This is probably the only fruit that I don’t really like. From what I gather, if you grew up eating them (probably because you had a tree in your yard – at here in silicon valley), you like them, if you didn’t grow up eating them, eh, no so much. You guessed it, I didn’t have a tree in my yard or in any of my relatives’ yards. And while I don’t have many recipes for using persimmons, I have made a seasonal salad at Thanksgiving that included persimmons, and it was delish!

Jennifer Tyler Lee recommends baking persimmons, making a persimmon cake, or making persimmon chips.

Food Facts:

  • Persimmons are a relative of the apple and the pear.
  • Good source of vitamins A, C, B6, E, and K,  maganese, potassium, and copper.
  • Good source of fiber.
  • Persimmons contain antioxidant carotenoids, including: lycopene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, and phenols.
  • Because of the nutrients they possess, persimmons are heart protective.
  • Studies have also shown that persimmons have an anti-viral effect.
  • In season in late fall and early winter.
  • A new study shows persimmons being used to combat breast cancer cells while not harming regular breast cells. This is due the content of fisetin, a flavonoid.
  • Originally from Asia.
  • There are two types of persimmons, astringent and non-astringent. The astringent persimmons are bitter when eaten raw.
  • Fuyu are best peeled and eaten raw and can be eaten while the fruit is still firm.
  • Hachiya are best used for baking. They are also commonly dried by hanging them from a string and allowing the sun to “candy” them.
  • Hachiya have an elongated shape and the Fuyu are short and stout.

From:

The 52 New Foods Challenge by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Superfoods by Tonia Reinhard, http://blog.outoftheboxcollective.com/recipes/glorious-persimmons/ and http://foodfacts.mercola.com/persimmon.html.

 

The 52 New Foods Challenge – Apples

While Apples are pretty much a staple in most homes in North America, I imagine that there are many varieties that you have yet to try! My grandparents had an apple tree in their backyard and I grew making apple crumbles and apple pies with my grandma. Despite all those apples as a kid,  I did not really like raw apples until I was an adult. Green were too tart for me and red and yellow were always too mealy (I now know that’s because they were OLD – many months out of season). Americans are so used to getting all types of produce year round in super markets, but in reality, those foods are either stored in cold storage for many months, grown in a different climate and shipped in, or grown in a greenhouse.

As an adult, I have come to really like all kinds of pink apples: pink lady, fuji, gala, and honeycrisp. I also only eat apples during apple season and during the very early weeks of cold storage. In Northern California, apple season begins in mid-late July and generally lasts until October. Thus, I  only consume apples from July-December.

Besides eating apples with almond butter, my favorite thing to use apples for is apple pie, any surprises there??? Jennifer Tyler Lee recommends that folks make an apple galette, warm cinnamon apples, or apple chips.

Food Facts:

  • Wild apples have SIGNIFICANTLY more phytonutrients than our domesticated varieties – some wild varieties have up to 475 times more phytonutrients than certain domesticated varieties.
  • If you were to plant the five apple seeds from an apple, you would get FIVE different varieties from those new trees. Once a variety is identified, new trees are grown by grafting (a method that involves cutting off branches from a tree and attaching that branch to a less desirable tree that has been trimmed back). This is known as extreme heterozygosity.
  • Any apple that is less than two inches in diameter is considered a crabapple.
  • Most of our modern apples can be traced back to central Asia.
  • There were once 15,000 varieties of apples growing in the United States, now there 500 varieties.
  • Apples harvested at the end of apple season will store the longest – several months, as compared with apples harvested in the beginning of apple season – several weeks.
  • Apples store best in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
  • An apple with the peel contains 50% more nutrients than an apple without the peel.
  • Raw apples contain more nutrients than cooked apples.
  • Apples are a good source of vitamins C and K and potassium.
  • Good source of pectin and other fibers.
  • Rich source of flavonoids.

Sources:

The 52 New Foods Challenge by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno, Superfoods by Tonia Reinhard, Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson, and The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan

 

The 52 New Foods Challenge – Butternut Squash

The first time I bought a butternut squash, I had no idea what to do with. I found a recipe in my Clean Food cookbook for roasted butternut squash with almonds and a touch of maple syrup. It was exciting to try new a food and a new recipe and really like it! The next week, at the farmer’s market, I went back for more butternut squash. This time I found a recipe for butternut squash soup. I’ve been hooked ever since! Here’s my favorite Butternut Squash Soup Recipe.

Jennifer Tyler Lee also suggests butternut squash soup and a maple roasted butternut squash. Yum!

Food Facts:

  • Member of the cucurbitaceae family.
  • Because of the thick skin, winter squashes, like butternut squash, can last in cold storage for up to six months.
  • The deep orange coloring is a sign that it contains high levels of beta-carotene, a vitamin A precursor.
  • Of all the winter squashes, pumpkin contains the most beta-carotene.
  • Foods rich in carotenoids, like beta-carotene have been shown to be protective against many cancers, especially lung cancer.
  • Carotenoid rich food is also protective against heart disease and the development of type 2 diabetes.
  • Good source of fiber.
  • Good source of vitamins B1, B5, B6, and C, and folic acid, niacin, potassium, and manganese.

Sources:
Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno, Superfoods by Tonia Reinhard, and The 52 New Foods Challenge by Jennifer Tyler Lee.

 

 

The 52 New Foods Challenge – Pumpkin

It’s not surprising that I love pumpkin, it seems like most people do. However, I’m not a fan of pumpkin flavoring. I’ll be honest, that stuff is crap, and I avoid crap like the plague. So that means no Pumpkin Spice Latte or any of the other pumpkin flavored BS out there in the stores. I know, some of you are probably hating me right now. You’re entitled to your love of whatever you want, but just be real with yourself as to what’s in it and what effect it has on your body.

I like pumpkin savory dishes as well as pumpkin sweet things. We had the MOST EPIC pumpkin and seafood soup on our Honeymoon in Puerto Rico. I have made a few attempts to recreate the soup, but haven’t been able to do so. I LOVE pumpkin curry from Jasmine Thai, our local joint. My favorite sweet pumpkin treat surprisingly isn’t pumpkin pie. I KNOW! I have a recipe for pumpkin cookies that is AMAZING! So bread-like and scrumdiddlyumptious. I’m in the process of trying to paleo-ify the recipe. STAY TUNED!

Jennifer Tyler Lee recommends pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie with a ginger spiced crust, and roasted pumpkin seeds with two different flavor profiles. I should also say I’m a huge sucker for homemade pumpkin seeds. It’s like crack to me.

Food Facts:

  • Member of the cucurbitaceae family.
  • Because of the thick skin, winter squashes, like pumpkin, can last in cold storage for up to six months.
  • The deep orange coloring is a sign that it contains high levels of beta-carotene, a vitamin A precursor.
  • Of all the winter squashes, pumpkin contains the most beta-carotene.
  • Foods rich in carotenoids, like beta-carotene have been shown to be protective against many cancers, especially lung cancer.
  • Carotenoid rich food is also protective against heart disease and the development of type 2 diabetes.
  • Good source of fiber.
  • Good source of vitamins B1, B5, B6, and C, and folic acid, niacin, potassium, and manganese.
  • Pumpkin has been shown to enhance immune activity in rodent studies.

Sources:

The 52 New Foods Challenge by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Superfoods by Tonia Reinhard, and Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno.

 

The 52 New Foods Challenge – Rainbow Carrots

Carrots are generally quite the crowd pleaser for kids and adults alike. Although I can imagine that it could be tricky to get kids to eat rainbow carrots. I have always liked carrots raw but only recently in the last few years have I really learned to love roasted carrots too. Jennifer Tyler Lee also recommends roasted carrots, but she also recommends a fresh carrot salad which also sounds delicious!

Food Facts:

  • The ancestors of our modern carrots came from Afghanistan and were purple.
  • During the cultivation of carrots, two mutant varieties began appearing – white and yellow.
  • Orange carrots were not seen until 400 years ago when breeders crossed a red and yellow carrots.
  • Purple carrots contain nearly TWENTY times the amount of phytonutrients as orange carrots.
  • Baby carrots should be avoided whenever possible. They are not actually “baby carrots”, rather they are carrots that have been whittled down. The outer layers that have been peeled off contain the most nutrition
  • Carrots are sweetest and freshest when the green tops are still attached.
  • However, if you do not plan on using the carrots within a day or two of purchase, remove the tops, as the carrots will remain firm and fresh longer. They will also retain their moisture longer.
  • Frozen carrots are not as nutritious as fresh carrots.
  • Carrots are more nutritious when cooked!!
  • Sautéing or steaming carrots retains more nutrients than boiling carrots.
  • Whole cooked carrots contain more cancer-fighting compounds called falcarinol than carrots that have been cut before cooking.
  • Eat carrots with some fat! Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which is a fat-soluble vitamin.
  • Carrots have a low respiration rate.
  • The anthocyanins in purple carrots have been shown to support a healthy liver in rodent studies.
  • Good source of fiber.
  • Good source of vitamins K, C, and B6, potassium, thiamine, and biotin.

Sources:

The 52 New Foods Challenge by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno,  and Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson.

 

Photo Credit:

Luv Kreativ Photography 

 

The 52 New Foods Challenge – Cauliflower

Cauliflower is one of my favorite veggies. This is another childhood favorite. My mom steamed it with butter and if you put butter on veggies, I’ll eat it. Now I love cauliflower roasted in butter. It’s simple and delicious. I also love cauli mash (instead of potatoes), cauli rice (here’s one of my favorite recipes), and cauli alfredo. It’s such a versatile veggie AND it’s good for you!!!

Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests that folks try roasted caulitflower – especially the purple variety or use a yogurt dip for raw cauliflower.

Food Facts:

  • Member of the Brassica/Cruciferous family.
  • White cauliflower is rich in glucosinolates, an important antioxidant.
  • Colorful varieties contain even more antioxidants than white cauliflower. For example, purple cauliflower, the graffiti variety, has two and a half more times the antioxidants than white cauliflower. 
  • It is believed that the white variety is actually an albino mutant from the more colorful varieties.
  • For fresh cauliflower, look for:
    • bright green leaves
    • no spots, speckles, or bruises
    • no traces of grey mold
  • It can be stored for about week in the fridge without compromising the nutrient value.
  • Steaming or sautéing the cauliflower will retain the most nutrients. Avoid boiling cauliflower.
  • Opt for fresh over frozen for the most nutrition.
  • Good source of vitamins B6, C, and K, folate, potassium, maganese, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Good source of fiber.
  • Due to its sulforaphane content, it is veggie that is great for the liver.
  • Contains many anticancer properties.

Sources:

The 52 New Foods Challenge by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno, Superfoods by Tonia Reinhard, and Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson.

The 52 New Foods Challenge – Brussels Sprouts

B R U S S E L S  S P R O U T S ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Hopefully that conveys my excitement for this fall and winter veggie. I could seriously have them nearly every day and still love them. But it wasn’t always that way. The first time I had Brussels sprouts was at my step sister’s wedding in 2009. I had avoided them for all of my childhood and well into my twenties. At the wedding, they were pretty boring, so I didn’t add them to my list of new favorites just yet. Then in 2010 I began working for Tomatero Organic Farm and in the fall we had Brussels. So I bought some and found a recipe in a cookbook for how to prepare them (roasted in butter and topped with bacon). And you know what? I LOVED them. From there on out, I was hooked!

Brussels Sprouts Vegetables Food Brussel Sprouts

Danielle Walker of Against All Grain has a great recipe and I have created my own favorite recipe too. Look for it soon! Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests Brussels Sprouts Chips, which surprisingly, I have yet to try! She also suggests roasting them with bacon [this is a very common way they are prepared] and also sautéed with lemon and walnuts.

VEGGIE TIP: If you aren’t on the Brussels bandwagon yet, it’s probably because these are DENSE little veggies and if not cooked through to the center, they aren’t very tasty. Using a food processor, try grating them or slicing them (my favorite). Now they will be cooked through and it won’t take an hour to chew them.

Food Facts:

  • Member of the brassica/cruciferous family.
  • Sinigrin and progoitrin and the bitter chemicals that are responsible for some folks distaste of Brussels sprouts.
  • Brussels kill more human cancer cells than any other member of the cruciferous family.
  • When shopping for brussels:
    • It’s important to buy them in season for less of a bitter flavor.
    • Brussels should be bright green with densely packed leaves.
  • Frozen Brussels have only 20% of the caner-fighting compounds as fresh Brussels.
  • Like broccoli and artichokes, Brussels respire rapidly, so refrigerate immediately and eat as soon as possible.
  • Steaming Brussels for 6-8 minutes will help them to retain the most nutrients (although that’s not how I like to cook them).
  • Great source of vitamin B6, C, and K, folic acid, beta-carotene,  thiamine, and potassium.
  • Rich in fiber.
  • Contain the antioxidant, glucosinolates, that help to fight cancer.

Sources:

The 52 New Foods Challenge by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson, and Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno.

 

The 52 New Foods Challenge – Artichokes

Boy! It has been waaayyyy too long since I blogged last! But I am nearly done with blogging about The 52 New Foods Challenge, so even though it’s Winter now and these foods are from the Fall portion of the book, I’m just going to finish up! PLUS, here in Northern California (where the self-proclaimed Artichoke Capital of the World is located) artichokes are in season in March, April, and May, so I feel like it’s okay that we’re talking artichokes in February.

Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests grilling artichokes or steaming them with lemon butter. Honestly, I don’t really get artichokes. I’d like to get them, but I don’t. As a kid, I thought they were weird and avoided them like the plague. As a grown up, I’ve only had them a handful of times because I’m really sure that I’m doing it wrong. Am I supposed to be getting some meat off of these leaves?!?!? I think they taste fine, so I’m willing to keep trying them, but I’m still baffled.

Food Facts:

  • Native to Northern Africa.
  • We eat “… the leaflike bracts of the unopened flower” (Robinson, p.196, 2013).
  • Artichokes have been used historically for their liver protective properties. Recent studies have found that artichokes contain silymarin and cynarin, both liver protective compounds.
  • Artichokes have a higher ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity – a measure of antioxidant capacity) value than any other modern fruit and vegetable.
  • A rich source of inulin, a prebiotic fiber that helps to feed the probiotic colony in the gut.
  • Good source of fiber.
  • The Globe/French artichoke is the most nutrient dense variety.
  • In order to get the maximum nutrition from artichokes, they should be eaten as closet to harvesting as possible due to their high respiration rate.
  • To pick a fresh artichoke
    • Rub two together and they should squeak.
    • It should feel firm when you squeeze it.
  • Boiling artichokes is a great way to prepare them because it increases their antioxidant levels.
  • Steaming artichokes is the BEST way to prepare them – you get three times the antioxidant levels of boiled artichokes.
  • Good source of vitamins K and C, folate, potassium, lutein, niacin, riboflavin, and iron.

Sources:

Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson, Superfoods by Tonia Reinhard, and The 52 New Foods Challenge by Jennifer Tyler Lee.

 

Hearty Turkey, Vegetable, and Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup with Turkey & Veggies

This soup was created with liver health in mind. Midway through my chemotherapy treatment for Breast Cancer, my liver enzymes were too elevated to continue treatment. We had to postpone treatment for at least one week to make sure that my liver was healthy enough to process the chemotherapy. At that time I was in school to become a Nutrition Consultant and I knew there were things that I could do to “Love my Liver”, so I went home and made some BIG changes to my diet for that week and well, IT WORKED! I went back the next week and my enzyme levels were low enough to continue with chemotherapy. Here is one of the recipes that I made for the “Love my Liver” week.

 

Recipe:

1 1/2 C green lentils (soaked overnight)

1 jar diced tomatoes

24 oz. homemade bone broth (chicken or turkey)

2 T butter

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

4 small summer squash, sliced

3 small bell peppers, diced

6 carrots, sliced

6 stalks of kale, de-stemmed and coarsely chopped

1/2 lb. ground turkey

Herbs:

Bay leaf, basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano

Sea salt & Pepper

Rinse lentils and let soak overnight. Next day: in a large pot, sauté onions and garlic in butter. Add broth, tomatoes, lentils, and veggies. Add ground turkey. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer. Continue simmering for 30-45 min.

Enjoy!